Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Six-month slump?

I'm back! And you sent me a few questions. Keep them coming!

Tamara asks: My family is six months in on the field. We have had numerous people in our community ask us for money. We have explained that we are here to help then with projects or programs to better their community but we will not be giving anyone money. Those same people have come back numerous times requesting money and explaining how poor they are. Everyone here is poor. It is a small village about about 1.5 hours from the capital city. We are now getting frustrated and our attitudes toward the ones that we serve are suffering. Is this what happens at the six month mark? It feels like the rose colored glasses have come off. If this is normal, please let me know and how do you change it. If not, does anyone have advice to help us change our attitudes?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. not sure where you are and not sure about the experience of others outside of w. africa, where we've been serving, but that was pretty typical of our experience. we struggled with anger and frustration and a dislike, then, of anyone who came to ask.

    we tried a couple of things. 1 - we rarely gave money. if someone came saying they needed money to buy food, we gave food. sometimes we found jobs to employ an asker for a week or so. we had a trusted doctor who did benevolent work and would help us evaluate medical needs, etc. 2 - we never gave immediately, but took the time to consult with each other. that often meant the person had to wait or come back; if their need was valid, they did persist. 3 - we talked to our local, national friends and asked them how to ferret out legit requests as well as the others and asked how we should respond; after awhile, we stopped asking other missos because it could become an area of difficulty within the expat community. 4 - but the biggest thing was we finally accepted that we needed to take the time to ask the Lord, do as He impressed on our heart and then truly believe that the money was His to begin with and we were only conduits to do with it as He led... even if it didn't make sense to us.

    that all sounds good - but there were always times of frustration that would resurface and we'd just have to keep coming back time and time again to #4.

  2. I live in a country with great national pride. This situation does not apply to us unless we are ministering in the gypsy community...but I want you to know I am praying for you and your family. We have been serving for about 2 years outside of Ephesus and know how the adjustment period goes. Hang in there and know that our Father is transforming you and your peeps into rich wells of living water. Deep and wide.... wisdom will come out of these new places n your hearts. Deep love and wisdom. Bless you sister, may your times with the Father be frequent and oh so sweet.

  3. I don't have any advice about the money, Richelle's seems great, but the six month hit-a-wall syndrome is real! Hang in there. After 6 months in Turkey my first time, I went on a 2 day crying jag and could only think of how much I hated it here. I would have gotten on a plane immediately had anyone given me a ticket!

    All you can do is hang in there, press into Jesus, and pray for renewal. Stick it out and you'll be amazed by his grace! Love to you in your difficult situation.

  4. The process of adjusting to life in another country is a roller-coaster ride! You build up to leaving, building up the excitement of what is to come, what you are going to see the Lord do, etc. Then you arrive and that first downhill is frightening but novel and exciting (usually)! It is perfectly normal to adore the culture you are in at first and then hit bottom after 6 months or a year.... Many times you swing out of it again - but the hill doesn't go up nearly as far the next time.... The swinging of emotions in terms of how you feel about the culture you're in vs. your own - that will eventually even out! Thankfully, we are children of a God who is steadfast and faithful through our own emotional war with the culture He has placed us in!

    We deal with A LOT of not just begging from those on the streets, but people within our circle asking for money. I, too, struggle with attitude many times and have to ask for forgiveness a lot! We know we are commanded to be generous, yet we don't want to be enabling. We know that we have far more than they do, yet we don't want to be seen as merely a financial resource. Oh, I know your situation too well. :) My husband and I have to be in constant communication regarding this issue - with one another but especially with the Lord. It really is case-by-case; sometimes the Holy Spirit leads you to give when you would rather not for a variety of reasons, and other times, He prompts you to say no. It is one of those areas of being a missionary in the 3rd world that is very complicated but that I honestly do praise God for. After all, it increases my awareness of my need for Him.

    I also sometimes get caught up in the thought that I should be "sacrificing" more. (Don't get me wrong, sometimes I fall into the "look how much I've sacrificed" trap, too!) But overall, I see my condition compared to many around me and think about how maybe I need to give more up. And I'm reminded of 1 Sam. 15:22, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams." He wants us to live faithfully, listening to His voice in these matters, rather than feeling like we have to keep giving and giving and building up resentment. Not easy in our flesh, but thankfully, we live by the Spirit!

    Be encouraged, sister! Others understand what you are going through and are lifting you up in prayer!

    1. I love what you have said, especially about the Lord desiring us to obey the voice of the Lord more than sacrifice! What a perfect verse to help navigate the stormy seas of needs in foreign countries. I often struggle with feeling like I'm not giving up enough, and it is such a good reminder that "He wants us to live faithfully, listening to His voice in these matters, rather than feeling like we have to keep giving and giving and building up resentment."
      -In Kenya

  5. I really like Richelle's advice too.
    Richelle mentioned taking time out to think and consult one another and also to take it to God... coupling that with the GREAT advice about giving to their need and not the cash is great too.
    If you can answer the request with a statment of your faith - we will talk about it together to be good stewerds of our wealth and we will pray. We do care and we want to be generous. Please bear with us. Then yes, offer them some work or any of the practical things Richelle mentioned.

    The only thing I would add is asking locals what they feel. Our context here in sth east asia is that people live hand-to-mouth and oftenborrow money from each other. Workers borrow from their employers and neighbours borrow from eachother. We needed to learn how to be wise to amount and appropriatness but to also understand the cultural differences.

    Ask God to give you wonderful and rich friendships in this culture where you feel valued for yourself. This goes a LONG way in helping your attitude and fighting the tendency to 'us' and 'them' which is a temptation in this situation.
    Bless you as you wait out this time. God has promised you the Holy Spirit & the fruit of this is perserverence. He has equipped you and is equipping you to ride out the 1st year, so take heart.